Parents’ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Mental Health Screening Using Home Visiting Programs: A Pilot Study




Katie Johnson, Alicia Woodward, Sadie Swenson, Christine Weis, Margene Gunderson, Marilyn Deling, Valeria Cristiani, and Brian Lynch

Brief Type

Journal publication


  • Early Head Start Home-Based Option
  • Healthy Families America (HFA)


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with adult high-risk behaviors and diseases. There is value in screening parents for ACEs given the repercussions parental ACEs may have on parenting behaviors and child development. The primary aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of parental ACE screening in the home setting. A secondary aim was to evaluate whether or not maternal ACEs correlated with maternal mental health outcomes. Methods: Two home visiting programs that supported early childhood development and conduct parental mental health screening implemented ACE screening for parents of infants <1 year of age. Descriptive statistics were produced for population surveillance of ACEs as well as standard practice screens for depression, anxiety, substance use, and intimate  partner violence. Logistic models were used to examine associations between ACE scores and mental health measures. Results: A total of 110 parents completed the ACE screen. All possible ACE score outcomes were represented (0-10). A trend toward association of positive prenatal maternal depression screen with ACE score was identified (p=.05). Conclusion: This novel prospective home-based screening program for parental ACEs was feasible and identified a trend toward increasing ACE score association with positive prenatal maternal depression screen. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Johnson, K., Woodward, A., Swenson, S., Weis, C., Gunderson, M., Deling, M., . . . Lynch, B. (2017). Parents’ adverse childhood experiences and mental health screening using home visiting programs: A pilot study. Public Health Nursing, 34(6), 522–530. http://doi.org/10.1111/phn.12345
Author Contact Information:
Brian Lynch


  • Participant Characteristics
  • Program Enhancements, Innovations, and Promising Approaches